With the Bulls trailing 103-102 with 8.4 seconds left, Butler took a sideline inbounds pass and methodically waited and waited on the right wing.
Butler tried to be the hero with a falling off-target fadeaway jumper, Marcus Smart maybe nearly grazed his elbow with his fingers, and the refs called the foul, incensing everyone on the Celtics (for good reason).
Jimmy Butler was the beneficiary after his jumper hit the rim and the clock expired, and he stepped up and made both free throws, giving the Bulls a 104-103 win.
It's almost impossible to tell if there actually was contact on the elbow, but let's just say it was probably a generous call for Chicago.
We know that Thomas was a little birdie in Al Horford's ear during last year's All Star weekend.
The Chicago Bulls just can't lose on a Thursday night with the entire National Basketball Association world watching and this one put that theory to the test in a big way. He played respectably in 24 total minutes over the past week but with head coach Brad Stevens going for more offensively-minded lineups, Zeller's skills just don't fit. He finished with 19 points on 8-for-13 shooting with eight rebounds.
Chicago Bulls shooting guard Dwyane Wade will miss Thursday night's contest against the Boston Celtics due to illness.
Thomas said directly that it "cost us the game", adding that he was running off the court and "the Bulls were even shocked".
After the break, the Celtics were incapable of opening up the lead against Chicago (because the Bulls were playing at home on TNT), but the Bulls weren't exactly playing spectacularly either, despite a very entertaining Jerian Grant heat check.
Butler scored 29 points and had seven assists for the Bulls (28-29), who won their second straight game and ended a four-game winning streak by the Celtics (37-20).
Thomas then drove for a particularly big hoop - not only for a 94-92 lead, but also to notch his 41st straight 20-point game.
The Celtics outscored Chicago 30-6 from beyond the arc in the first half, and it felt like a matter of time before they would blow things open. They led by six when the Sixers scored the last six points of the quarter and the game was tied at 29.
"Horrible call", he told reporters. The Bulls' control of the offensive boards resulted in a 22-4 advantage on second-chance points. "I'm just glad we're winning on top of being mentioned with all these great players".
Myles Turner finished with 17 points and nine rebounds for IN with All Star Paul George also adding 17 points.
Going into the All-Star break, the Celtics will hold the No. 2 spot in the Eastern Conference standings, with the Raptors floating somewhere between the third and sixth spot.